Re: [g-a-devel] GNOME Launches Campaign for Accessibility

Hi, Chris.  One of the reasons I often make an ass of myself, other
than having no clue about human emotions, is I write emails like this
after drinking on Friday night.  So...

I agree that the Gnome Foundation gives a11y high priority.  My main
issues in the past have been that the GTK+ team gives it zero
priority, at least when a bug is reported by the community.  Even
though we had excellent programmers committed to a11y, we could not
move forward because they didn't have the authority to fix the code.
Joanmarie has said that Benjamen is very active in the GTK code base
committing a11y related patches.  If there is a committed individual
working on the hardest a11y issues, I'm willing to wait and see if
there is improvement.

In my opinion, the separation of responsibilities is the main reason
for lack of a11y progress in GTK.  If any of the wonderful people
working on a11y  that we are both fans of were able to commit patches
to GTK, the issues would have been resolved years ago.

Because several e-mails on this topic have attacked my emotional
response to my patch to pixmap objects being rejected, I want to
explain my philosophy about GUI objects and a11y.  If an object is
going to be displayed on the screen, I feel extremely strongly that
the programmer using that object should have the opportunity to attach
a text description to that object.  Not only does pixmap not allow
this, but GTK uses pixmap objects in all lists, tables, and tree
displays, which is why no icon in any list, table, or tree in any
single GTK program says anything other than "icon".  Any programmer
who takes the time to examine how GTK programs are typically written
can come to any conclusion other than pixmap objects are a fundamental
core object, used just about everywhere, and that the programmers
using them are not to blame for not making accessible descriptions.
GTK doesn't allow it.

This is why the icons on the Qt version of Unity talk.  They rock.  Is
there any way to get through to the GTK team that displayed objects
need an opportunity for accessible descriptions?


On 1/6/12, Brian Cameron <brian cameron oracle com> wrote:
> Christian:
> On 01/ 6/12 09:55 AM, Christian Hofstader wrote:
>> "Sometimes accessibility lags behind…" is an accurate  statement. My
>> question is why Gnome Foundation would consider a11y issues to have a
>> priority lower than any other feature of the software. By permitting
>> a11y to "lag behind" other features, it is effectively put on the
>> back burner and will require  a11y hackers to try to retrofit  access
>> in a most inconvenient manners.
> The GNOME Foundation considers a11y to have a high priority, and we
> work hard to focus attention in areas of a11y.  The GNOME community
> is a volunteer community.  While The GNOME Foundation has a certain
> amount of influence, ultimately work gets done because people like you
> do the work.  Thanks, by the way, since I know that you do a lot
> personally.
> GNOME 3 involved a lot of change to the GNOME UI, as GNOME is moving
> towards a more OpenGL and clutter based design.  This is really a step
> forward for a11y since many features (like magnification and
> on-screen-keyboards) benefit from OpenGL features.  GNOME 3 was
> released before a11y was fully working partly because there is still
> significant effort involved with the GNOME 3 accessibility transition:
> - Making clutter and GNOME Shell accessible.
> - Converting a11y infrastructure from using CORBA to D-Bus and
>    engaging/cooperating more with KDE to make a11y work.
> - Making WebKit accessible since many GNOME features would use it.
> Considering the amount of work required to make GNOME 3 a11y happen,
> I think we should not be too hard on ourselves.  We are making good
> progress.  It will likely take some time to get a good focus back on
> GTK+ a11y issues while we are finishing all this work.
> As you say, it would be better to make stronger release team a11y
> requirements.  I think it would be easier to define such requirements
> once accessibility is working reasonably in GNOME 3.  We have made a
> lot of progress already, so hopefully this will not be so far in the
> future.
>> Also, allowing a11y to lag makes my job really hard. I'm trying to
>> convince all sorts of groups to use free software and that free
>> software a11y is good enough to use full time. I'm also trying to
>> convince people that the free software community cares about a11y
>> but the consumers see little evidence to this fact.
> GNOME 2 has very good a11y support, and is what is delivered by most
> popular and enterprise distros currently.  Most of the serious issues
> the a11y team are dealing with is in the GNOME 3 code.  Do these
> consumers really insist on using GNOME 3 before it is ready, or are
> there specific GNOME 2 a11y issues that are causing particular concern?
>> Joanie, the Vinux gang, Luke, Mike, etc. are amazing individuals who
>> make incredible contributions. Alas, depending on a few talented and
>> incredibly dedicated hackers for a11y, features we must have to be
>> used in US Federal and a bunch of state government jobs, is severely
>> sub-optimal.
> Volunteers have always been the cornerstone of the free software
> community.  People who volunteer their time in the service of others
> are, as you say, amazing individuals.
>> I cannot go to someone trying to make a purchasing
>> decision and convince them that the a11y problems will be fixed
>> as they will ask, "by whom?" and I'll be without an answer.
> The GNOME community has an award winning track record of supporting
> accessibility in a free software environment.  There are plenty of
> consulting firms that regularly work on GNOME that would likely be
> delighted to provide support that is needed.  We have a community of
> users who do find GNOME a usable and accessible, if not perfect,
> experience.  What more is needed?
>> Until a11y bugs are considered showstoppers, my ability to do too much
>> in the "sales" side of GNU Accessibility is hampered. Worse, though,
>> is that many people may lose jobs or be unable to fully participate in
>> the free exchange of ideas via electronic methods - a civil rightthese
>> days.
> What specific showstopper bugs are we talking about?  There are only 3
> blocker bugs with keyword "accessibility" currently.[1]  I notice there
> are only 21 critical bugs.[2]  That does not seem so insurmountable.
> Not all a11y bugs should be show stoppers, and they need to be
> prioritized along with all the other show stoppers.  Accessibility is
> a job that is never done.  There is always more work that can be done
> to make electronic devices more easily accessible to a wider range of
> users.
> Let's keep up the good work!
> Brian
> [1]
> [2]

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